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Oblate Fathers of St. Francis de Sales
Association of St. Francis de Sales "Salesbond"
Whereas the “Association of St. Francis de Sales” gives thanks to God for its long and fruitful existence, the “young Salesian Volunteers” has been recently founded to offer young adult women a heart and eye opening break in their lives.

Young Salesian Volunteers  

volunteersThe Oblates Sisters of Saint Francis de Sales offer young adult women from Southern Africa and Europe the opportunity to live a human, spiritual and missionary experience.  For at least three months or more, the volunteer will share the life and the mission of a community of Oblate Sisters. It will accommodate the young adult, providing “bed, meals and working experience” whereas the volunteer offers her time, skills and availability. It is a unique experience of mutual enrichment through “freely giving and receiving” with a religious community and the poorest in South Africa and Namibia.

  • to be twenty one years of age
  • a letter of application
  • an interview with the Regional Superior
  • a written agreement to renounce to be paid for the accomplished work

volunteers2You have surfed on our website and discovered who we are and what we do. If  “respect, compassion, joy, service, availability, openness,… are keywords in your life and you want to share your time and talents with us and the people we are in touch with, this enriching opportunity may be for you!  Do not hesitate to contact us.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive!”

Testimony of an Oblate Sister involved with volunteers

In recent years the community I stay with, has welcomed girls from France and Germany. This is a blessing for me, for our religious community as well as for the hostel, the school and the parish.

Different circumstances create opportunities to talk to them about their motivation and commitments as volunteers as well as their spiritual life. I have often been surprised by their participation in our prayer life.

The volunteers play with the hostel children and teach them good manners. As they don’t speak Afrikaans, the communication is based on English and our children’s language knowledge improves greatly.

In the school, they are of great help. They organize and help with reading and computer skills. On the sportsground our children are encouraged and new tactics are learnt.

Our entire community is grateful having volunteers with us because we learn from each other. Our encounter is a source of transformation and mutual enrichment. At the end of the stay the separation becomes difficult. I keep them in my prayers asking God to touch their hearts and to bless this outstanding young people. .

Anne-Sophie Gauvin’s testimony

text-anne-sophieSmiles, laughter, songs, children running towards me… these were my first impressions of Gabis!

I spent six wonderful weeks there, sharing my time between the school in the morning, helping one of the Sisters, and taking care of the hostel children in the afternoon: washing clothes, playing with them, going for a walk, talking with them or doing some shopping with the Sisters. Even with the smaller ones who only spoke Afrikaans, I succeeded to communicate, looking at their eyes and their face. I shared the most beautiful moments of complacence that I have ever had with anybody before! It was so wonderful to see how much they had enjoyed the day. Their happiness made me forget my fatigue I felt at the end of the day. Before coming to Gabis, I thought that I was going to give something to the children but in fact, they gave me everything. I received so much from them and I will never forget any of them.

I also realized that with true faith in God, everything is possible even if it may take a long time. I was incredibly surprised to see how the youth had been transformed. The hard and patient work of the Sisters and of Father bears fruit. The young people now behaves respectfully, tries to avoid alcohol, spreads a good spirit, takes responsibilities by looking after the small ones. “Gabis’ spirit” is now moving them!
Moreover, I experienced wonderful moments sharing time with the Sisters, talking with them and praying with the entire parish community on Sundays. During the Eucharist, even if I did not understand Afrikaans, I felt in communion with everybody, something I have never experienced before.

I went back to France with a renewed and deeper faith, a new state of mind, a new vision of my future life. I think my experience in Gabis helped me a lot to take a decision for my future life.

I keep Gabis’ Sisters and children in my daily prayers and even if 10 000 km separates us, I still feel our communion in the Holy Spirit.

Verena Bittl testifies

text-VerenaIn 2009 I took part in the Christian Volunteer Service Program “Young Salesian Volunteers” for five months. Working in different places in R.S.A. and Namibia, I experienced teamwork and fellowship with Christian believers from many different countries.

At Gabis’ primary and boarding school my role was basically to empower the children and to assure them that they were important, unique and loveable.

I was involved in HIV-Aids projects in Keimoes and attended the local clinic to receive an impression of their mode of practice. All in all I was really astonished that the team there achieved a great deal with moderate means.

I also had the opportunity to travel. I saw a lot of lovely places and I got to know a wonderful people.  It gives more importance to relationships than to life standards and thinks that to relax is healthier than to get to meetings on time.

Having been a volunteer was worthwhile and fulfilling. If I  had known how much it  would affect me, I would have signed up for a longer stay. European youth should feel the necessity of such an experience.  Oneself being exposed to everyday challenges that a people, especially children face, are eye-opening. Being back in Germany, I  appreciate a lot more small things in life.

Even if I was only there and supported them for a few months, I bear in mind the words of Edmund Burke: "Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little."   

Finally I want to thank the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales with all my heart for offering me the chance to come to Southern Africa, for accommodating me and for always welcoming me with open arms. You were my companions, being always available for me. Thank you.
Anne-Sophie Gauvin’s testimony